My brother and I sat crouched in the closet. His arms were wrapped tightly around me, and I couldn’t stop crying. My father had come home drunk. Again.
He started chasing my mother; all while yelling at her and landing blow after blow. My mom was hysterical, and my father was simply…crazy. Furniture was broken. But more importantly, souls were broken.
It wasn’t just my mother he decided to make his victim. My father abused my brother and me, repeatedly. He manipulated our whole family. We weren’t even teenagers yet, and he offered us drugs. He sexually abused me. But that wasn’t the worst of it. This man – who held me in his arms when I was a baby, who sang lullaby’s to me with his gifted voice, who was supposed to be my protector and hero – this man encouraged his friends to molest me. My mother was both mentally and physically shattered, and sat by powerless to stop it all.
But then my father left us to be with another woman. This freed my mother from her abuser, but she lost herself completely. Although she lived with us in our house, my brother and I were left on our own, struggling to survive it all. For a while we did, barely. But then, my brother, the only person who I felt really understood or loved me, committed suicide.
I was lost. Totally. Completely. Lost.
Fast forward a couple of years, and now it wasn’t my father, but my first real boyfriend pulling me by my hair across a parking lot. He seemed to relish beating me, when he wasn’t verbally and sexually abusing me. My father had conditioned me well, because it didn’t end with my first; it was boyfriend after boyfriend, one abusive relationship after another, which lead to one failed marriage after another. Always succumbing to whichever form of abuse my current “lover” deemed I deserved.
Three things kept me alive through it all –
1. I started working at 14, and made sure I excelled at everything I did.
2. I developed some amazing friendships that gave me hope.
3. There was a fire inside that kept telling me to hold on…that something bigger was coming.
Part of that something bigger happened during my second marriage. The man I married had three children whose mother was in jail. I felt I could save them all. I needed to save them all. I was going to save them all, until I found out that my husband was a drug addict and an alcoholic. Echoes of my mother and father played out once again, until…
I got pregnant. And everything changed.
While I never felt myself worthy enough to stand up for, I’d be damned if I was going to let anyone hurt my child. Through the love for the miracle growing inside me, I found the courage that I needed to change my life and break the cycle forever.
I divorced my husband. I put an end to abuse in my life and in the life of my child. I won’t pretend it was easy or quick, but it was necessary.
I tell this story openly, because I want other women to know that they are not alone. There are so many of us who entered into this vicious cycle through no fault of our own, and were trapped because we knew nothing else.
I know what it feels like to carry the secrets, to hold them in so that you appear normal and so no one knows.
I embarked on a journey to end the cycle of violence that survived in my family through multiple generations. I have found that not only are my children worthy, but so am I. That’s why the abuse ends with me.